Navidad in Nicaragua

Many years ago Lennie Wilker, my first husband, and I wrote an annual “Holiday Letter” that updated our friends about the latest happenings in our family.  Sometimes it was sent before the end of December.  Occasionally it wouldn’t get written or sent–yes, in an envelope with a stamp–until later by a couple of months.  I thought it would be nice to update my Blog with a new Holiday Letter.

The Holiday Season beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing until the day after the New Year is a festive time for me.  Here in Nicaragua it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas too.  Now that most of the rural homes have electricity, those families that live above the survival level are decorating their homes with a few lights.  Other families have small cardboard images of Santa Claus and other commercial Christmas figures hung on their doors or stuck on palas (sticks) in their yard.  It is surprising to me to see how fast the commercialism of the US has spread to us here in rural Nicaragua.

Managua is a whole other level of splendor and Holiday paraphernalia.  The rotundas are decorated with gigantic figures of Nativity scenes, Christmas trees–all metallic–and Santa with Elves.  There isn’t enough money in the government treasury to pay for employees but somehow there is funding for these elaborate displays.  OK, that statement is out of line for a cheery holiday spirit.  Needless to say it bugs me though to see this dichotomy of resources.

My tribute to the Holidays is to do a little decorating at Condo 1B.  My roommate/tenant, Sherry, helped me make a wreath with greenery from around the yard and a pine cone that I purchased at Sinsa, the biggest hardware chain in NI.  I also picked up a little wooden stick Christmas tree that has tiny lights.  It is battery operated so we can see the tree and lights from almost everywhere inside and the front terrace.

My biggest event for the season will be a piñata party at my Guzmán Family’s compound in the village.   I got a large white headless angel piñata and will fill it with the carmelos (candies) that are usually expected with a piñata.  I decided that the headless angel was a better idea than beating to death a piñata that looked like a real angel figure.  Last year the circular Santa face piñata that I found was filled with 5 cordoba coins and no candy.  It was truly fun and every child in the compound under 12 years old also got a piggy bank to put in their found coins.  This year isn’t going to be as lavish an event as I made last year.  I can’t afford that extravagance again, however, I did a lot debating before deciding against a repeat performance.  The party will be in the afternoon on Christmas Day.  I know everyone will enjoy the cake and juice and the kids will knock each other over in the scramble for the piñata candy.

I’m spending many hours most days working on the English as a foreign language (EFL) textbooks that I am writing with Kathy Ramirez.  Two books completed five to go before January 11th.  So I’m stopping this blog now and getting back to work.

Happy Holidays to EVERYONE.

Only Love Prevails.  Solo el amor prevalece.

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My Holidays in Nicaragua

Living away from my family at holiday time is normal for me. Our household had many holidays because we practiced both Jewish and Christian traditions for many years. My favorite of all the holidays was and still is Thanksgiving a tradition related to gratefulness and love.

When my children were young we traveled to their grandparents home from our home in southern to northern California for Christmas holidays. Now living in Nicaragua where it is warm and beautiful, I prefer not to travel in the cold and to spend the seasonal holidays here.

Several friends come to their homes in Rancho Santana every year during the cold weather. As a result those of us who live here have developed some traditions of our own.

Thanksgiving, although the US date isn’t the same as the NI date, is a big event. Even Nicaraguense join in to the celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Rancho Santana always has a traditional feast in the restaurant that is excellent and fun. The day before Thanksgiving Day one of my RS permanent resident friends has started the Friendsgiving dinner. There is the traditional turkey feast with guests bringing extra dishes to delight the palate. This year I think there were 50 people of all ages enjoying the dinner and evening. A lot of folks who we know come from other towns to join the fun. Friendsgiving Day is my newest favorite holiday.

This year the Friendsgiving hosts are also having an Italian Christmas Dinner and White Elephant party on Christmas Day. This is a good thing for me because I do miss Christmas morning at the Leah and Tim Smith’s house where the piles of presents are passed out and then opened one after another. My Friendsgiving hosts are Joanne and Kenny Smith. A perfect coincidence Christmas Day for me to attend.

On the 22nd I hosted a Christmas Piñata Fiesta for my Guzmán Family at their campo. We are a group of 53 family members that range in age—me being the oldest—to the youngest of six months. The piñata, that I bought in the store that makes them in Managua, was perfect for my idea of a piñata. No carmelos in this piñata as I dislike the idea of more candy for kids with the little candy wrap papers flying all over. I put 200 coins—5 cordoba—into the piñata. There were 18 children under the age of 10. We paired the older children with one of the little ones as an ayudante (helper). When the piñata finally broke and yesterday it didn’t, it fell from the rope after many beatings, all the kids piled after the coins. The ayudantes were the ultimate collectors for their partner. The coins were counted and put into a piggy bank, called an alcancía, that each child received and had their name written on. The ayudante was also given a bank with their name and the same number of coins was deposited into their alcancía. Although there was much skepticism about this piñata and how it would work, in the end everyone especially the kids, thought it was great fun. There was much noise from bank rattling until the parents told their offspring to take their banks to their homes on sight in the campo. I think the concept of saving money little by little was a new idea for the parents and older children. Hopefully savings will grow as so many other ideas have done in my Nica family.   Afterward we all had Christmas cupcakes and juice—pure juice not the sugar flavored water that prevails. The adults, all 34 of them, received a small wrapped gift for the females or a special Holiday card for the men with some money. This family is as dear to me as my amazing biological family. They both take care of me and I love them all.

For the past six weeks, I’ve had a roommate. Katie Phelan is a three-month pastry consultant at the Rancho Santana restaurant. She has been working 12-hour days so I didn’t see her very much except for the very few breakfasts or dinners we had here at the condo. Katie left today and I’ll be moving the day after Christmas to my friend Gail’s house for a week as the condo is rented. I’ll be back to the condo for one week and then off again for a month for another renter. It will be nice when the condo sells, I can finish building my house, and won’t have to keep moving around with food and office.

The Guasacate house construction has focused the past two months on the Great Wall—retention and water reservoir—on the ocean side of the house. Now as the wall is almost completed, the inside of the house can receive the construction work.

I continue to work editing online courses that is such fun for me and is keeping me busy enough as well. In the beginning of December I taught my Cuidadores de Personas class for two days in Granada. That was stated to be successful for the four attendees. I enjoyed staying at my friend Terry Leary’s home around the corner from she and her sister Nancy Bergman’s hotel Casa San Francisco. The class was held in Terry’s home but I ate all my meals at the hotel restaurant Bocadillos that they lease to a young couple. All these owners are from the SFO area and it feels like home when I am there.

Now it is time to visit with more friends and celebrate the season.

So Happy and Peaceful Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year to you all.

Sent with MUCH LOVE.

Piñata with 2 yr. old Sebastián

New News and What’s New

New News and What’s New

If you aren’t already confused, I’ll elaborate for more confusion.  For those of you who know me, you won’t be surprised, I’m certain.  Life for me is always a progression of changes and learning opportunities.

Last blog stated that I work on the beach from my home and yes, I do that too.  However, with our current technology, I can work wherever my computer and an internet connection are available.  The past two months I am working on several projects that require research and travel within Nicaragua.  I find fun wherever I can–and avoid work along the way.

My friend Marg Satchwell and I spent three days in Laguna Apoyo at Pacaya Lodge while I spent time working on the next Basha Health Clinic venue at Pacaya Lodge scheduled for this summer.  Marg and I didn’t fair so well however.  I tripped going upstairs to my loft bedroom and fell backwards down the stairs.  No broken bones for me but really sore sacrum.  Marg in her fervor to help me tripped on the same landing and jammed her arm into the wall creating an impacted fracture of her radius into her wrist bone.  We learned about the hospital in Rivas the next day where Marg had an x-ray and subsequently spent the night.  Keep in mind this was Semana Santa weekend, specifically Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  The hospital doesn’t provide sheets or pillows for the ancient beds so my driver made several trips to my friend’s in Limón to borrow sheets, pillows and he shopped for food and drink for the three of us–Marg, Maurice my driver friend, and me.  Marg was very fortunate to have the ortho doc working on Saturday to be a pleasant capable surgeon who recommended conservative treatment–manipulation and cast fixation of the radius versus surgery.  I was able to bring Marg home with me on Saturday so that she was only staying with the cockroaches one night.  Yes, unfortunately the Rivas Hospital has gone downhill in many areas over the past four years.  Thank Isis, the doctors are still great.  Not sure how they can stand working in a not so great hospital but it is truthfully the better of the two hospitals in Rivas.  Note to self, STAY HEALTHY.

Before our accidents, Marg and I had a great time exploring artist’s shops in San Juan de Oriente and one whole day in Granada.  It has been a year since I spent any time in Granada and I was pleasantly surprised to see many newly painted buildings and visit the completed Museum at the San Francisco Convent.  In the past Granada hasn’t been my favorite place to visit but I’ve changed my mind and would consider more than one day’s exploration in the future.

The best NEWS for me this Spring is that I now have clear title to my condo.  The Fabulous Beach Condo with a View is now posted FOR SALE on several websites with more to follow.  http://www.escapeartist.com and http://www.latincarib.com to begin with.   The condo is already rented through mid August with potential for rental two months in October and November. Hopefully the rentals will be enticing to potential buyers.  When I return to NI on June 4th, I’ll be staying at Carmen Gúzman’s casita in Limón #2 where I lived when I first moved full time to NI.

I am currently working the past two weeks from my daughter Rivka Bent’s home in San Juan Capistrano.  My grand daughter, Esther Roosvelt Bent, graduated on May 6th from Westmont College in Montecito, CA.  It was an exciting weekend although COLD and raining off and on.  Yes, of course, I was freezing unless I had on my three layers of clothes that are kept in the traveling suitcase that is carried between my children’s homes for when I come to visit.  Fortunately someone in my family travels from Northern to Southern CA at least once a month for something and can therefore transport THE MOM suitcase.  I’ll be here in SJC for three weeks then on to Dixon, CA for my last week in the US.  I have two more grand daughters graduating from high school in June in No. CA.   It is hard to believe these grandkids are getting older and I’m not. (Or so I think.)

The rainy season has finally begun on the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua and I hope that it lasts for many months as we desperately need it.  Before I left NI there were a lot of fires caused by dry trees and brush and the increase in smokers who haven’t yet learned what throwing away a lit cigarette can do.  Of course this statement is a judgment.  However in the past years I haven’t seen as many fires along the roads as I have seen this year.  Usually one can see fires up in the hills caused by I’m not sure what.

The Guasacate house project is progressing nicely.  Construction is still focused on the infrastructure a major retaining wall on the ocean side that will also house two rainwater encachment reservoirs and a jacuzzi sized pool.  Ron Urroz, the builder, who is a civil engineer is always coming up with something to enhance the construction.  Now when I get the condo sold, I’ll be able to spend the money on finishing the project.  In the meantime, I am happy with the way the property is coming alive.  I have the beginning of a waterfall in the front entrance side of the house.  The volcanic rock that the house is built on is so hard that it broke the backhoe that was trying to remove rock to level the front.  Ron and I decided to leave the rock and I’ll turn it into a waterfall pond area in the future.  I’ve already been researching ideas.  For those who never saw my house in West Sacramento, I designed a waterfall and small pond that ran 24/7 and held three goldfish that grew to 6 inch specimens and my red-earred slider turtle named Felice.  Time will tell what this water element will end up as.

Although I enjoy seeing my family and friends here in the US, I truly miss my life in Nicaragua and my families and friends there.  I can’t wait to get HOME even though I’ll be camping again for six weeks.  NI is my home.

Once again, I invite guests to join me in my Paradise on the Emerald Coast ocean in Nicaragua.

Photos in order of appearance:

Esther Bent Graduation with Mother, Rivka doing a mother task of fixing an umbrella for the Grad.  Esther and Dad, Brian Bent playing at the last gig of the Bent Duo at Esther’s work place last night – May 12th.

Rock art on the hike that Marg and I did from Pacaya Lodge.  The chapel display for Semana Santa at the San Francisco Convent Chapel in Granada.

My retaining wall in process.  The reservoirs are in front of Ron and Ana’s house next to mine.  My reservoirs will be similar but divided into three spaces.  The Urroz wall is in front of their pool and BIG jacuzzi.  My wall and reservoirs will be off the apartment below my house terrace.    The mammoth space under my house will be a 700 sq. ft.- 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment that I’ll rent out.

 

Rain Brings Humido

Yes, in order to be grateful for the wonderful rain, one has to accept the humidity as well.  I can’t honestly say that I like humidity so I turn on all the fans in the house during the day.  If it is really bad, I’ll turn on some AC for 30 minutes or so to dry things out here in the condo.

Since Sept. 28th I have been back at my condo and will remain here off and on in between  renters.  The new owners of Barbara’s house where I had been living for two years finally were able to move in on Oct. 1st.  It is good to be living in my own place for a number or reasons.  I am able to see what needs repair or replacement on a daily basis.  The condo is almost seven years old and has had its share of renters–some good, some not so careful.  All in all, Loamy Guzmán and his maintenance crew have made all the changes I requested and repaired the dings in concrete, wood, and paint.  In Nicaragua, as in the US or anywhere when you own a rental property, there are always maintenance issues that create choices to repair, replace, or ignore.  I like my homes to be pristine whether or not I live there.

I have had company in October.  Barbara, who was homeless when her house sold, became my roommate for three weeks.  We had a great time, sorting, repacking, and discussing what I need to store and what I would need to use here at the condo.  It was amazing how many things I had moved up to Barbara’s house that then came back to the condo with me. Thank Isis my personal closet at the condo is able to handle six crates of items that will eventually move into the new Guasacate house.  My children brought many of the crates that were stored in my daughter’s garage in CA when they came to visit this summer.  I had forgotten about what I had left in CA–out of sight, out of mind.  Barbara, with her previous packing wisdom, offered to inventory every item as it went into a crate for storage.  Each crate has a number and a separate inventory sheet.  I can now decide in the future if my stuff is relevant to whatever the lifestyle becomes.  Careful inventory lists are not only useful but I recommend they are mandatory.  It is interesting that I had always done the crate inventory lists when I was bringing supplies for the Clinic.  I could whip out the lists from my computer, send the lists to MENSA and then show them to customs at the airport.  This saved me many a headache upon arrival in Managua.  I won’t have to report my stuff to MENSA when I move again, however our lists will be prioritized for unpacking in the new home.

We had a visitor for a week here at the condo.  My friend, Joan Livingston from Salina, KS, finally came to visit after six years.  I met Joan in the Houston airport in 2004 when I was returning from my first NI trip.  Joan was on her way to Rancho Santana to look at property.  We sat next to each other at a coffee shop in the airport and started talking.  I gave Joan all the info about the lot that I had just bought and shared my love of the area.  Joan did buy a lot not too far from my original property in Rosada area of Rancho Santana.  She, however, sold her piece six years ago and hadn’t been back to NI since.  You can imagine the fun that Barbara and I had taking Joan to all the places both inside and outside of RS that were new to her.  We spent everyday, rain or shine, exploring.  Then we rushed back to the condo made dinner and played Dominoes–or tried to learn to play Cribbage.  We made up a new game but never did figure out the rules for Cribbage; had much laughter though.

The three of us had the privilege of invitations to a Fundación Fenix feria and the following evening the 1st year birthday party–a grand event–for Sebastian Morales Guzmán.  Sebastian is my friend/family Carmen Guzmán’s son.  That family/campo has grown from 32 people when I lived there three years ago to 50 members now.  It is so encouraging to see how the family interacts with each other.  The love that is shared among them at all times is elevating.  There is no hierarchy apparent.  Everyone receives respect or correction/instruction as appropriate.  I am fascinated and grateful to be a part of this family.

Fútbol is a big sport in our area.  Three of my Guzmán family chicos play on the RS Limón team so I have been attending the Saturday afternoon games when they are played at Fun Limón field.  The last two games were a dangerous sport because the field was a relative lake.  Players were sliding all over each other in singles and piles.  I honestly don’t know how they played but I guess the water from being down on the ground kept them cool.  It made it hard to run and kick though.  The games are fun to watch although sometimes a little sad too when the opposing team only has half the players and the RS team is in full force.  We tend to support our own in this community and one way is getting them to their games.  I like sitting behind the goal, although this is a little scary sitting at the picnic tables there.  Generally others at the table protect me from flying soccer balls.  I can yell as loud as anyone at the goals and at the referee when it isn’t the only woman ref I have ever seen at a men’s game.  The chica ref reminds me of my son, Aaron, how she calls serious infractions and talks to the players about other stuff.  She is especially good on the very wet field calls.  The last male ref was a real gestapo and nearly caused a riot from both team’s sideline spectators.

There are so many opportunities in NI now.  Alex Cuadra, the general manager for the new Costa Esmeralda International airport 15 minutes from me, spoke at the October El Limón Salon.  He not only discussed the ease of coming in to NI through Liberia, Costa Rica and ECI, he talked about the growing number of opportunities for development in this rural area of Rivas Department.  It seems as though if you blink your eyes too many times, there is a new building in front of you that didn’t exist prior.  In November the El Limón Salon speaker will be Juan Cadera, the president of ANID–Association of Nicaragua Independent Development.  I am very anxious to hear Juan again.  It has been a year since I last heard him speak about development in Managua.  Now with the airport in Rivas, I want to hear what he sees for our area.

Everyday brings a new possibility for me.  I have been showing new people the properties that are for sale. No I haven’t added real estate broker to my Bio, but maybe I should.  It is fun for me and I learn new things too.  There are so many pieces to the puzzle of my life; I enjoy fitting a new piece into place.

Although I haven’t taught my Cuidadores de Personas classes for over two years, there is interest now to begin teaching the course again through the NGO Fides Camina.  A definite need for caregivers exists in NI.  The hospitals especially would benefit from using nursing assistants for the caregiving tasks.  Dras. Chamorrow, who run Fides Camina, are very interested in the possibilities for the defined caregiving program that I developed.  We are slowly working on details of execution for the program.

This brings me to discuss work with Dr. Basha’s Clinic that he will be doing again here in the Limón area this month.  Although we are planning a large Basha Clinic for January in the Granada/Laguna de Apoyo area, Basha can’t resist coming here again to work.  Did I mention that he also likes to surf early in the morning and then work all day.  Basha is such a good Chinese Medicine doctor and acupuncturist; we are privileged that he wants to come here to work.  Of course, I’ll be doing his logistics again.  Unfortunately, my condo is rented while he is here so I’ll have to find another place for him to stay.  There are many options for places to stay close to the surf and to work.  The Spas at RS and Carmen’s Spa are perfect venues for Basha’s work.

Although I have been bragging for years about my great dental health, this week I will get to experience the excellent work of the NI dentists.  I developed a cavity under my gold bridge that served me and lasted 50 years.  The bridge was removed last week.  This week, I will have the affected tooth removed, two posts placed for a new bridge in two months that will hold both the new tooth and a false tooth that replaced the one in the original bridge with new white crowns on the supporting teeth.  And by the way this whole process will cost me less than $3000 at the Vivian Pellas Odontological Clinic, the most modern facility easily comparable to the best dental practices in the US.  I am very happy with the four dentists I have already seen–the regular dentist who cleans my teeth, Dra. Cynthia Watson; Dr. Ramon Hernandez, the prosthedontist; Dra. (can’t remember her name) endodontist; and Dra. Alvarado, the peridontist who will begin her magic this week.  All of these dentists speak fair English and all but Dra. Watson have had specialty training outside of NI although their initial dental school training was at the university in Leon.  Dr. Hernandez was recently accepted at Loma Linda U. in So. CA for a second Master’s Degree in Prosthedontics–a three year course.   It would pay to come to NI to have major dental work done.  Medical tourism isn’t a joke here especially if you have a local advocate.  Maybe this could be a new business for me too.  Never retire is my motto.

November is the beginning of homeowner’s returning to RS and the general area.  There will be many gatherings and catching up with news.  Hopefully I will be able to keep all the activity lined up and not double book myself–which I have done and had to apologize for the error.

Please continue to pray for rain for us here in NI and ignore my complaint about the humido.

Solo el amor prevalece.

Sebastián Birthday Party Kid’s tables  —  Barbara, Me, Joan (Adult tables)

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Sebastián with his proud Dad, Warren.  Birthday tradition someone always puts a finger in the frosting and then puts it on the celebrant’s cheek.  Sebastián had a great time with this.

 

 

 

 

I Am Grateful

Celebrations for me are small treats not grand events. However, this June for my 80th birthday I had a GRAND Event. All four of my children made the trip for their first time to Nicaragua. Rivka and Aaron, my youngest two had planned their one-week trip to be here for my birthdate. The night before they were leaving CA, my oldest son, Greg, got a ticket and met the younger two in Houston. Three out of four on my birthday was pretty exciting, knowing that my oldest daughter and her family were arriving two weeks later. Greg, Aaron, Rivka and I stayed at my condo and had a great time mostly tranquillo. I was able to tour them around our area and introduced them to many of my friends and of course my two Nicaragua families—Guzmán, and Urroz Zavala. We had two dinner parties with friends at the condo and had a blast with both groups. The last two days of their stay the four of us traveled to Granada for one day and night and then to Managua for a day and night. I saw things in Granada and Managua for the first time as a tourist—the inside of the cathedrals in Granada, and Salvadore Allende Park and the museums there in Managua. The Ruben Darío museum was particularly interesting since the speaker at the El Limón Salon two days earlier featured Ruben Darío, his life’s work and influence on the people of Nicaragua. Aaron, who came to the Salon with me, and I were quite impressed with the museum and the knowledge that we had received from the Salon.

After the Wilkers left, three of my expat friend groups arrived for short visits to Rancho Santana. This gave me more chances to show them progress at my Guasacate house and check out for myself the daily changes. Enjoyed the opportunity to catch up on the lives of my coming and going friends.

On June 27th Leah, Tim, and Isaiah Smith, Isaiah’s friend Ricky Guzmán, and my cousin Suzi Taylor came for one week. Since I couldn’t fit all of us in my car at one time, we rented a van and driver to be with us for the 7 days they were here. My friends Dolores and Bill Watson gifted me use of their beautiful big house in Los Perros as a birthday present. This family was a lot more active and wanted to “do stuff”. I sent the group with the driver to go “quading” in San Juan del Sur. Maurice, my friend the driver, took them to a high point nature reserve on the ATVs. Spots that I didn’t know existed. We had several awesome meals at the Watson’s house but no outsiders for dinners there. We were a tribe unto ourselves for three days.

The last two days we went to Selva Negra in Matagalpa which is a lot cooler. There we toured the coffee farm and finca areas. It rained the whole time we were there, although this didn’t stop Tim, Isaiah and Rickey from a very long hike in the foothills.  We decided to leave Selva Negra early and go to Chichigalpa to tour the Flor de Caña plant. That was a spectacular tour, although I am not so sure I would recommend rum for breakfast at 9:00 am. The rum was excellent quality though and not such a bad breakfast after all. From Chichigalpa we went down to Leon, had lunch and a quick tour through town. Maurice knows where everything is and an efficient and fun guide. We checked into my favorite hotel in Managua the Camino Real near the airport for two nights. Again Maurice toured us through Managua, shopped at Wimbus Market, and then kept the van at his house for the following day’s adventure. Maurice took the group to the Volcan Masaya for a zipline that Tim proclaimed to be the best he had done including HI. I stayed at the hotel enjoyed learning about and reading on my new Kindle while sitting around the pool with occasional dips in the water–not rum. We had dinner at the hotel that last night with Ron Urroz and Ana Zavala. Leah and family got to meet almost all my friends and Nica families too. It was sad to have them all leave and I have tears in my eyes again at the thought of how blessed I was to have all my children here to see my Nica world. Each of my children told me before they left that they now understand my life here a lot better and know that I am safe and loved here. Leah’s family left on the early UA flight on July 4th. My friend Barbara Tenbusch Wisley, owner of the house where I live, came in from FL at 7:00 pm so I waited for her to travel back to Rancho Santana with me. Byron Vasquez, my usual driver/friend, brought my car earlier in the afternoon from RS so that we could do the shopping before Barb arrived. Long and enjoyable day spent reading and planning at the hotel.

It is interesting to me that so many of the Hotel Camino Real staff remember me from all the times I have stayed there over the years. Many of them know that I am a nurse. This time as I was sitting at the pool area, several of the staff came and asked me for medical advice. I felt honored to know that I am considered helpful to them. I always preface my advice with, “I am not a doctor. I can only give you my opinion.”

Barbara was here for almost two weeks and outdid herself getting more cleaning and sorting for the sale of the house. Efforts paid off, she received a deposit for the house the day before she left. I had shown the buyers the house almost two years ago and kept bringing them back up for dinners to see what a fantastic place this is. Now I will have to find another place to live probably sometime around October. I have several options outside of the condo. Since the condo is my main source of income outside of Social Security, I want to keep that rented. Little by little I am evaluating possibilities.

The weather has been absolutely spectacular here the past month. Rain a little now and then, nice cool breezes mixed with hotter than hell before it rains. Everything is so beautiful and green. I have watermelon (sandia), cantaloupe, and squash growing out of my compost pile at the house. The trees that I thought were absolutely dead six months ago have green leaves slowly coming out. That is tenacity for sure.

To keep me “off the streets” I have embarked on a couple of projects this past week. I will start teaching the Cuidadora de Personas classes again. I keep getting requests for caregivers and then can’t find one. (Same problem as the US.) Instead of having a four-hour class five days a week, I will hold a Saturday 6 hour class for three weeks. I believe that I can impart all the info needed for a caregiver in this timeframe. I spoke to Carmen Guzmán about using a massage room at her spa in Limón #2 for the bed portion of the classes. I will redo some of my info for the longer sessions and hold the first class in the beginning of September.

I told Dr. Basha that I would research doing another Basha Health Clinic in Nicaragua. This time we want to offer the Managua and Granada people acupuncture and thermography. I made a trip to the newly opened Pacaya Lodge and Spa outside of Granada at Laguna Apoyo. The place is beautiful and perfect for the high-end clientele that Basha would like to reach. I am waiting to have a meeting with the Pacaya owner. Once again, I am on the road. It is good that I love to drive and that Granada isn’t the chaotic horror that Managua is for drivers. This week I made two trips to Granada—one to Pacaya and the second to Clinica Apoyo to introduce the leaders of Roberto Clemente Clinic (www.nicaclinic.org) in Limón to Dra. Reyna Cordero at Clinica Apoyo. (www.comarcasapoyo.org)

The condo is pretty consistently rented until the end of the year. Not rented everyday but enough to break even monthly.   Now I am concentrating on plans for the commercial property and whether or not to build the apartment on the bottom terrace level at Guasacate before completing the upper house where I ultimately plan to live, be cared for, and die. If the apartment could be finished when I need to move from the Wisley House, that would be my first choice of new quarters.

It seems like I am always juggling multiple small projects that keep me occupied—wound care patient consulting, legal research, writing or consulting for business plans for friends both Nica and expat. My life here is fulfilling and I love it.

Remember there is always room for guests where I live. The invitation is open.

Sitting on the terrace IN THE RAIN

What else can I do when I am so grateful to have this blissful rainy day and the ability to sit here on the Wisley House terrace and listen to classical music from my Sacramento station streaming from capradio.org!  Yes, I could succumb to my addiction of playing Candy Crush Soda Saga but alas, I’ve decided to share the latest and greatest news.

The hills are now very green and the flowers are blooming profusely around the house.  The terrace where I am sitting smells of the multiple gardenia blossoms on the bushes surrounding one part of the terrace.  I planted a gardenia bush under the office window in my CA house because I love the smell and I am once again blessed with this aroma.

This is also bird nesting season and I have been battling two pair of jarracas who want to build a nest in a funny lamp on the terrace next to where I sit.  They have tried to start a nest in the back of the sofa where I sit.  I talk to these birds and again they don’t listen with their “bird brains”.  On the other hand I do listen to their beautiful voices and generally that is how I know that they are on the terrace when I am not sitting here myself.

The past week we have had rain almost every day during the day and night with and without thunder and lightening storms.  It reminds me of my first year in Nicaragua, 2004, when we had LOTS of rain with rivers overflowing the roads and lakes across the road that were too deep to pass.  We didn’t have “chicken buses” then that go through almost unbelievable depths of rushing waters.  (I think either the drivers are nuts or they have such a heavy load, 4WD and tough engines.)  This past week I was in a line waiting to cross a very fast running deep river and watched as the bus drove through with water up to a little above the back door.  Needless to say, I along with several others in the line decided to turn around and go back to whence we came.  I know the water stops rushing if it stops raining in a few hours. You still have to drive through the river but you won’t be flipped sideways or hit by a tree or animal as the river races on course.  I made my same attempt about two hours later successfully, slowly in 4WD.  It is a riot because the village kids think this rushing water is a fun place to jump in and play.  I think it is their form of “chicken dare”.  Scary since few of these kids know how to swim and in 2004 and 2005 we had three deaths at the very river I am talking about, one was someone who was in an SUV and flipped sideways down the rushing water and the other two were trying to cross on horseback.  Things that NGO volunteers are teaching kids are swimming in the ocean as well as surfing.

Dr. Basha Healthcare Clinic’s May trip was much more organized and successful.  No use of my condo as the treatment space so he had privacy in his living space.  Carmen Spa was perfect and he successfully treated 6 to 8 patients at a time on several days.  Of course, the local Nica people were given free treatments.  What a blessing for all of us.  He worked at Carmen Spa in the morning and Rancho Santana Spa in the afternoon.  Basha will be coming back again at the end of August and I’m looking at a new Spa in Laguna Apoyo–Hotel Placaya–to service more of the Managua and Granada folk.  I need to start working on the logistics before the family comes–Aaron and Rivka this coming Wednesday for a week.  Leah and family and my cousin two weeks later for a week.  I am so excited to have them see this Nica Life.

I have been busy for the past two weeks listening to webinars on investing and health.  Actually I’m collecting CEUs to renew my CA nursing license and Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist certificate.  I’ve had several health issue consultation projects as well this past month.  I love these opportunities.  It keeps me on my toes and off the streets.

My house in Guasacate is now visible to all from the road since the roof is on.  I’ll try to attach photos that I took looking from my terrace through Ron and Ana’s house where I could see Costa Rica from my terrace.  The electrical wires and tubes are being chopped into the concrete walls at my house and Ron and Ana’s place now has tile floors and lighting.  It looks like I’ll have room on the lower level for a small apartment.  Ron wants me to design it soon so he can put in the utility  infrastructure while he is doing the main house.

Progress is being made even with the rain.  I’m glad that the roof job is over.  I hate to see the workers up on the sloping roof beams when they are slippery.  One of the workers fell a couple of weeks ago and broke his collar bone.  Ron and Ana took him to the hospital in Rivas and the next day to his home in Managua.  Construction accidents are very common.  I have seen many patients since 2004 who had serious accidents that we treated at the Roberto Clemente Clinic.

Enough writing for one month.  Next blog will have adventures of Margie’s family in a third world country for the first time.  Pretty exciting.

Sorry about the photos at the top.  I am still trying to figure out how to attach photos in WordPress.

Excuses exhausted

I have now exhausted all excuses for not writing this blog sooner. My warm blood froze in both No. and So. CA so I was very happy to return to 80 degrees and finally get thawed out.

Although I arrived back in Managua, NI on January 4th, I have been to Managua three more times in two weeks. All were working trips with positive results. The gentleman sitting next to me on the plane from Houston to Managua is the president of one of the largest distributors of medications and related consumable products in NI. As he found out about my work with Aproquen, he offered to help me and the Roberto Clemente Clinic here is Limón #2 by donating medications from his company’s César Guerrero Foundation—the name of the company started by his father. Paul Guerrero is the president of Dicegsa one of the Guerrero Group companies. I do believe that angels look out for me. If I stick to my motto, “Listen and show up”, good things seem to happen. I am grateful that I sometimes have sense enough to listen and that Paul changed seats to sit next to me. Yes, Paul switched seats so that a couple could sit together which landed him next to me.

In between trips to Managua there were many friends to see before they headed back to their US homes after holiday visits to their RS homes. I was told by several friends that this was the most crowded they have ever seen it here at Rancho Santana during the winter holidays. Now that the road from Tola is getting better everyday as the cement blocks are being laid, more Managua folks are coming to spend time at our beaches along with the gringo owners. RS has received some impressive PR in the NY Times, Forbes, and several travel magazines. There was even a photo of a gal on the RS beach in the United Airlines Hemisphere magazine that I read on the plane.

My condo was rented through the holidays from mid December. Although my friend Nan took great care of the day to day staff details, I needed to handle some repair issues at both the condo and where I live here at the Wisley house. By next week, I think life may get back to normal again—whatever that is for me.

This past Saturday the Roberto Clemente Clinic had its annual Health Fair. Of course, I participated again this year by doing blood glucose checks with a glucometer. The César Guerrero Foundation donated money to purchase 20 glucometers and strips for the Clinic Fair. This year the weather was perfect and the wind didn’t carry off the cabanas set up for the variety of health triage stations. We had six specialty doctors and four internal med docs seeing patients for six hours. Another successful health fair for sure. My connection for the Clinic with the Guerrero Foundation will continue into the future.

The sale of my West Sacramento house was finalized while I was in the US. For this I am grateful. Now my only property is in Nicaragua.

The El Limón Salon is active again after the Holiday break. We had a small group on Jan. 17th. Half of the attendees were Nicaraguan. The topic fit perfectly for all of us. How the ego runs our lives and creates separation. Ego defined as Edging God Out. It was very interesting to have dual participation in the discussion especially since the previous two Salons were on cultural diversity and assimilation of cultures. Those of us gringos probably learned more from this Salon than we could have gained in a semester in school. I am slowly able to understand a lot more spoken Spanish and surprisingly think in Spanish as I listen to conversations such as at the Salon. There is hope for me, although my daughter, Rivka, wouldn’t quite agree yet.

Planes, Sansa and La Costeña Airlines, are now regularly flying from our new local international airport—Costa Esmeralda Intl.—to Managua and Liberia, Costa Rica. This airport is 15 minutes from Rancho Santana. As a result of the airport closeby many more people are coming to our little remote area looking for property particularly beach front and view property. I am grateful to have been here early or I wouldn’t be able to afford my property soon. Beach property is still 50% less than anything similar in the US, however. The NI government is now putting emphasis on tourism to offset the previous reputation of NI as an unstable and warring country. Although everything in life is subject to change, I trust the stability here.

The January “diablo” winds have begun which is drying everything out rapidly.  The polvo “dirt” looks like devil dusts in the desert. The wind is keeping the temperature rather cool for us. My maid told me today that it is cold. I smiled, 75 degrees isn’t cold in my mind.

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Driving in town
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Nurses at the Clinic Health Fair
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Nurse at work, yes, it is me.

It became clearduring my holiday trip that I am needed here in NI more than in the US. My family in CA is functioning very well at present and my friends here–my gringo friends–need both physical and mentoring help. This help I can provide lovingly. Each day is a new adventure in my life. Thank Isis–the goddess–I am healthy and have lots of energy.

My Guasacate house is going up by leaps and bounds now and is very close to having a roof put on. I will keep everyone posted and remember to take some new photos.

I will try to be a better blogger in the future–my New Year’s resolution. No more excuses.